Leaders as Olympic Athletes

The first Vietnamese Gold medalist, Hoang Xuan Vinh

The first Vietnamese Gold medalist, Hoang Xuan Vinh

In Rio, the top athletes from around the world are completing in the Olympics in Rio.  Would we really expect any athlete to win the gold without a great deal of serious practice? Why would something complicated like leadership be any different?

Like Olympians who relentlessly beat their own world records, great leaders pursue their own development as a life­long journey.  They practice nearly every day, to continually grow.  But before triggering the starting gun, leader development professionals must uncover the racers most capable and passionate about their career. This separates the leaders who just want to hang­out in a high potential club for the status, from those who are as serious about their self development as an Olympian. Computer-­adaptive assessments are to leader measurement what digital stopwatches are to sprinters - the most precise and accurate available.

But how do you make sure that the leaders who practice will follow through? Consider having each candidate literally sign a contract, promising to practice leader coaching exercises with their complete attention at least once per week. Like a swimmer in a time trial, leaders must agree to seek out new insights from each "lap" they take in their daily leadership tasks, and then make notes regarding the lessons they've learned in a digital journal. 

A leader's digital journal catalyzes two elements to the traditional leader development process. First, by having leaders use a digital journal every week, their personal coaches can proactively intervene without waiting for the next coaching session. Second, the digital aspect of the journal makes it easy to maintain a leader's confidential journal as private, while simultaneously identifying which leaders are not progressing. By following a framework that includes action learning and the latest coaching technology, leaders become more engaged in­­and accountable for ­­their own development.